“Count on Me,” cont’d

After dredging up that story about the two different versions of “Count on Me” yesterday, I’ve been thinking some more about the choice to sub out Penrod’s voice for Gaither’s more prosaic, somewhat lumbering baritone in the first verse.

Of course the first thing to say is that it wouldn’t really seem like that big of a deal if we hadn’t heard the way it might have been in that pre-release special edition. You don’t miss what you never had.

No matter. In a 1995 context, I think it makes a certain amount of sense to defer the introduction of Penrod’s voice to the second verse. The song was a sort of defacto debut for him insofar as it showcased the power anthem possibilities of his voice that were clearly the reason he was hired. And delaying his entrance on the song to the second verse, and cuing the crowd-roar loop right at his entrance, perfectly reinforced the sense of a star walking on stage. Still and all, Lowry could have taken that first verse and given it a bit more zip while saving the second verse for Penrod’s big entrance.

But judge for yourself. If you’ve got $1.98, you can download both versions on iTunes. Thanks to Kyle for pointing out that the Guytastic version was released on a compilation project called Honoring the Father. The original release of the song, of course, is on Southern Classics, Vol. 2.

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  1. quartet-man wrote:

    I always thought that Bill’s solo made Guy’s stand out all the more. I never thought of Mark singing the first. I think that would have been good, but still wonder if the difference would have been as dramatic. I doubt it (unless Lowry held back a good deal.) As talented as Guy is, his first solo on that song (the original) was really subdued which of course made his second all the more dramatic. Nonetheless, I like the idea of having a different vocalist on the first solo.

  2. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    It’s probably more a case of Gaither looking at the finished CD and saying, “I really ought to do at least one solo on this thing. The group does bear my name, after all.”

  3. Nate Stainbrook wrote:

    I tend to agree with Quartet Man about it not being a bad thing that Bill got the solo on the first verse… Guy really explodes out of the gate on that second verse, like a thoroughbred coming out of the starting gate at the Kentucky Derby… He really makes it known right then and there that he is the future of the GVB…

    2. Bill gets a very long solo on that particular album… “Old Friends”… :) But I am sure you knew that, and you were making a joke that temporarily might have went over my head… :)

  4. quartet-man wrote:

    I like Nate’s “explodes out of the gate” description. That sums it up well. To me, when English left it was really disappointing (besides the scandal). Buddy and Pierce are good vocalists, but it was still a step down. Although I still prefer English overall, Penrod really impressed me and is a great talent. This song was the first I remember hearing and thinking wow on. I thought he sounded like Michael Bolton on it and in all seriousness, sang that high Db stronger and more soulful than English probably could have. That song and Penrod on songs like “The Old Rugged Cross Made the Difference”, “I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary” and “I’ll Worship Only At the Feet of Jesus” are my favorite Penrod leads offhand though I am sure there are others I’m forgetting. Well, a few more are “Let Freedom Ring”, “Hand of sweet Release” and “Reaching” although the latter two are more subdued overall :)

  5. Kyle wrote:

    Speaking of solos, did anyone notice that Bill didn’t get ONE SINGLE SOLO on the “Testify” album, aside from a few pickups on “John The Revelator”? Go through the song list….Jonathan Pierce, Buddy Mullins, Mark Lowry; all are featured but Bill. I’d say the album is pretty much a joint feature for Pierce and Mullins. Even Mark is limited to one and a half solos (”Lord Feed Your Children” and the first verse of “Home”).

    I also swear I can hear Michael English’s voice on the title song and possibly “Mountains of Mercy” on that album doing BGV’s.

  6. Wade wrote:

    Funny I was just looking on youtube the other day for a concert version and could not find one. I was pitching it to a candidate for a campaign theme song!!

    The song also besides it’s spiritual use it is also good to play for a lover as you look them deep in the eye. A little Jimmy Swaggart tear action can really help enhance the mood to deliver the desired effect!!

  7. harold reed wrote:

    Honestly, the 1st time i heard the 2nd verse of that song, i almost fell off my couch…Guy Penrod’s voice has a power and presence that not many have. Having seen and heard him up close on the Gaither stage, i believe i can accurately say there are very few in his catagory. Great song and great post!

  8. quartet-man wrote:

    I have used “Count On Me” as a pre-service song for Graduation Sunday and will likely do so this Father’s Day. Speaking of great power ballad songs, has anyone heard “I Will Follow Christ” by Clay Crosse, Bob Carlisle and Bebe Winans? A friend introduced it to me when it came out. As much as I love Crosse (Bebe is no slouch either), Carlisle “stole the show” on that one.

    Back to Penrod. I don’t remember the exact quote and certainly not what site I found it on (it was found on an internet search many years ago), but in regards to Penrod someone who had worked with him early on made a comment to the effect that he had more power come out of his mouth than a stack of Marshall amps.

  9. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    The song that sealed the deal for me was “When Jesus Says It’s Enough.” I was working in Christian retail at the time. We got the Ryman reunion video several weeks before the Southern Classics V. 2 CD came out, and played it in the store constantly. I was eagerly waiting for the CD by the time it released.

    #3…regarding “Old Friends,” there are some things I’ve tried (unsuccessfully) to block out from my memory. That song was also on the Ryman video and countless others that came after it. Talk about ponderous…one of those video versions is about eighty minutes long.

  10. j-mo wrote:

    I agree that English’s voice is all over the Testify album. He produced the CD and I believe had recorded a good deal of it before the scandal, so I always figured they left his voice on the stacks to ease the transition from one group to the next.

    I sometimes wonder if they did the same thing on the Give it Away album where Hampton debuted. There is definitely a Phelps style sound to a lot of the tenor harmony vocals.

    As far as “Count On Me”, I do think it’s a case of Bill using his vocals on the first verse to contarst Penrod. Featuring himself on the same track is also a subtle way for Bill to endorse his new singer, especially in a live setting.

    Would love to hear from someone in the know to see if my theories here are correct.

  11. quartet-man wrote:

    I am not sure if they put Bill there for the contrast or not, but it sure works. :-)

    I do think I heard English on some of Testfy, but it still wasn’t the same.

    David, Old Friends is one of those songs I would rather avoid and really wish I had always avoided. ;-)

    I agree that Wes had some Phelps type sound, but I don’t think they had chosen songs before he left. I do hear touches of Phelps in his voice in parts of his range.

  12. quartet-man wrote:

    P.S. I wondered on Testify if English was originally slated to sing “Lord, Feed Your Children”. I loved the song and Mark’s take on it, but after hearing English signing it later on DVD on his first appearance back for years, found myself liking his solo work better. I do prefer the quartet on it instead of the choir and I prefer that arrangement to the current one.

  13. DMP wrote:

    I think there is a lot of vocal smoke and mirrors on those albums. Take for instance (only on live albums) Alpha and Omega, where Phelps is singing the solo lines AND the backup simultaneously. But the most perplexing song for me is Hand of Sweet Release. At the major climax of the song, I really can’t break down the parts in regards to who is singing what. In all reality, I think Penrod is singing ALL three parts…

  14. wanderer wrote:

    Smoke and mirrors. Hahaha. Believe it. In live concert too.

  15. Ralph Johnson wrote:

    It’s the same smoke and mirrors on In That Great Gettin’ Up Morning. I really challenge someone to tell me that they can hear Mark Lowry singing on that song. I can hear Guy twice, but no Mark.

  16. quartet-man wrote:

    #15 what about the live version? ;-)

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